— Richard Rolke, Vernon Morning Star
A fentanyl crisis is being declared within Shuswap Nation communities.
About 15 to 20 deaths have been linked to the opioid in the last six months and the elders have called on the Shuswap leadership to take action.
“Each person is attached to a family and children, and they are part of our family,” said Wayne Christian, Splatsin chief and Shuswap National Tribal Council chief.
Christian is aware of the death of a Splatsin member who was in Vancouver.
As part of its efforts, the SNTC is making Interior Health Authority information on fentanyl available to residents.
“We’re trying to encourage our people to educate themselves. People need to know what to do,” said Christian, adding that Naloxone kits are available and they, “can save lives.”
The SNTC is calling on the First Nations Health Council, IHA, the RCMP and all other agencies to work with it in joint partnership and fill any gaps which are contributing to the crisis.
The chiefs also want an accurate collection of statistics on the number of overdoses and overdose related deaths.
Christian points out that addictions in First Nations communities are related to multi-generational trauma from residential schools and the ’60s scoop where children were adopted to non-native families.
“Language and cultural healing are a critical part of the relationship with Canada,” he said.